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20 funds that thrived in the lackluster first half of 2012

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Equity markets around the world have struggled to make headway this year, with many major indices giving up gains made early on to leave them standing flat or down for 2012.

With the risk-on/risk off trade dominating markets, early gains across indices including the FTSE 100, FTSE All-Share, the French Cac 40, and the Hong Kong Hang Seng, have all but vanished following the sell-off in May.

As well as a near-flat return from most equity markets, commodities have sold off sharply, with gold and oil both falling.
However, a number of fund managers have managed to negotiate the sell-off to post double-digit gains over the first half of the year.

Below are the 20 top-performing funds of 2012 so far (to end of June, data provided by Morningstar)


                Fund                              Returns (%)            
Pictet Biotech 24.31 
AXA Framlington Biotech  20.96
Neptune UK Mid Cap  19.66 
Baillie Gifford British Smaller Companies  18.53 
CF Odey UK Absolute Return  17.29 
First State Asian Property Securities  16.82 
BNY Mellon Global Property Securities  15.42 
JPM Europe Convergence Equity (EUR)  15.37 
FF&P Small Cap UK Equity  15 
MFS Meridien Europe Smaller Companies (EUR)  14.98 
Henderson UK Smaller Companies  14.55 
Cazenove UK SMaller Companies  14.28 
MFM CFS Balanced Oppurtunities  14.23 
Henderson Horizon Asia Pacific Property 14.05 
Schroder Institutional UK Smaller Companies  13.81 
MFM SGC Global Equities  13.47 
Liontrust UK SMaller Companies  13.39 
JPM Global Property Securities  13.38 
M&G Japan Smaller Companies  13.32 
Digital Stars US GBP  13.24


Why the winners are winning

Pictet Biotech, run by Michael Sjöström at Sectoral Asset Management, has benefited from its exposure to companies which have been the subject of takeover speculation during the last six months, while some positive announcements on patents also boosted the small cap names.

Both Pictet’s fund and AXA Framlington Biotech, run by Gemma Game, have risen amid strong performance across the whole biotech sector since the start of the year, with the Nasdaq Biotechnology Index up by over 25%.

UK smaller companies funds also feature heavily in the top 20, as a pickup of merger and acquisition activity provided a boost.

Stars including Paul Marriage (pictured) at Cazenove and Neil Hermon at Henderson are benefiting, with Hermon’s holding in German company WSP jumping a huge 67% after receiving a bid.

The other sector shooting ahead is property securities, in particular Asian focused funds. Listed property markets have raced ahead on signs the eurozone crisis may well be solvable in the near future, and funds such as First State’s Asian Property Securities portfolio – run by Andrew Nicholas – have exploited that, seeing big gains.

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